We’re entering a bit of a slow time right now. The Stanley Cup has just ended, with Bruins fans watching gloomily at a Rangers-Kings bout. The Patriots start the long stretch between the draft and preseason. It’s hard to watch six innings of the Red Sox offense without getting migraines. The World Cup is in full swing, but it’s embarassing to keep asking my more knowledgeable friends which “-inho” is the better “-inho”. Fargo and Game of Thrones just wrapped up All-Star seasons, with Orphan Black set to join them this weekend.
And so, with almost a week until the NBA Draft, we must turn our attention to the Boston Celtics. And unlike last summer, when we were mainly talking about Brad Stevens’ arrival and pondering whether Kelly Olynyk was in fact the mythical Sasquatch shaved down and heading East to play ball, the main topic of conversation between Celtics fans has been Kevin Love.
The allure of having a superb talent on Love’s level is huge, and, let’s be honest, the long slog of rebuilding a team is never fun. And the Minnesota Timberwolves, who understand that Love has no interest of resigning with them long term, will be looking to cash in on their superstar before he hits free agency.
But Celtics fans have to understand that trading for Love will not be a cure-all to the team’s woes, and, in fact, may hurt the team in the long term.
1.The Price May Not Be Right
This is the least important issue but one worth taking note of. Thre have been conflicting reports about where the Celtics’ possible trade package lies in Minnesota’s esteem, but let’s, for the moment, take ESPN’s Chad Ford’s report from Tuesday into consideration.
According to Ford, in return for Love, the Celtics would ofer the #6, the #17, a future 1st, Jared Sullinger and/or Kelly Olynyk, as well as cap relief/expiring deals.
Look to get a superstar, you pay a superstar price. But that’s _a lot_. While not exactly brimming with upside Sully and Olynyk are cheap, young talent. Sully especially was a wonderful surprise in his first full season, often the most consistent player on the team. Throw in both 1st round picks in a deep 2014 draft, as well as another future pick, as well as sacrificing a lot of future cap relief in either this year’s non-guaranteed contracts or Brandon Bass’ expiring, and the Celtics lose a lot of flexibility needed to build a contender.
All in all, this proposed package is a lot to ask for what may amount to a one-year rental. Which brings us to the second point.
2. Why Would Kevin Love Stay in Boston?
Look I hate to be a buzzkill. But as much as I’d like to think that all of those championship banners and the chance to work in a rising-star coach in Brad Stevens would be enticing enough for Kevin Love to sign a long-term extension with the team…I just don’t see it.
Part of the allure of joining the Celtics is the promise of a bright future. But, if we believe that the proposed package would be what it takes to acquire Love, so much of that promise is sacrificed.
Instead, Love would be joining a team with no 1st round picks this year and little leverage in the free-agent market, with hefty contracts in Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace weighing the team down. Rajon Rondo is certainly a step up from Ricky Rubio, but enough of a big step to be appealing to Love? Love has said time and time again that he want to join a playoff team sooner rather than later, but with the Celtics it would be him, Rondo, Avery Bradley, whatever they get from Jeff Green and…not much else. In the East, that might be a playoff team, but you’re not going far.
If I were Love I’d be much more intrigued by jumping over to Golden State, home to Stephen Curry, a bevy of young talent, and one of the best fanbases in the NBA. Or Chicago, where Tom Thibodeau, Joakim Noah, and the possibility of a healthy Derrick Rose are a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
Or, even if Love is traded, why not wait til free agency, where you’re guaranteed a max contract and the chance to join a team of his choice that may not have the trade assets this year.
I just don’t see it. I think Love, being the basketball nerd that he is, is obviously attracted to the tremendous history that the Celtics have, and the thought of being the next great to lift a banner in Boston is immensely appealing. But I just don’t see it.
3. Kevin Love, alone, doesn’t solve the Celtics’ problems
Alright, the good news: Kevin Love is a transcendent offensive talent, probably the best at his position in the NBA. He instantly becomes the Celtics’ best 3-point option (which isn’t a great thing, but still) and crunch time scorer. While not an athletic dynamo, Love’s game IQ is top notch, which has turned him into one of the best rebounders in the game. And, perhaps best of all, he’s one of the best passing big men in the league. His outlet passes alone should have Celtics fans salivating, as it will jumpstart the team’s offense and get it going into the electric, fast-break that maximizes it’s talent. And the trio of Love, Rondo, and Stevens are perfect for each other, and their fanaticism for the intricacies of the game should translate well on the court.
The bad news: Kevin Love has the reputation of being a defensive liability. While it’s been slightly exaggerated, that reputation is based on fact. Kevin Love will have trouble with bigger and more athletic opponents, and sometimes his focus on not fouling hurts more than helps. The Celtics’ desperately need a rim protector and neither Kris Humphries nor Vitor “El Hombre Indestruible” Faverani should be counted upon in that role. Without a mauler like Nikola Pekovic behind him, these struggles may be more pronounced in Boston.
Again, I cannot stress enough that Kevin Love, in a vacuum, would be a tremendous acquisition for any team. In fact, if the Celtics were to wait, he’d be an amazing free-agent pickup if he truly does want to be the next Celtic great.
But in the scenario that pundits have suggested, there are just too many issues. I’m absolutely skeptical that Love would choose Boston as a long-term home over teams like Golden State, Chicago, Houston, or even his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. And even if he did, the price to acquire him would hinder the team’s ability to put the pieces around him to make the team a championship contender.
In the end, if the Boston Celtics do trade for Kevin Love, I’ll end up being pumped. I’ll be first in line to buy a green-and-white #42 jersey, and will dream of televised rebounding clinics and crisp outlet passes sparking endless fast breaks.
But if Danny Ainge does complete the trade, I hope he does it knowing that Love will re-sign and is able to salvage one of the assets (for example, if they could keep the #17, it would sting a lot less).
Because if not, the Celtics may not just be sacrificing their future, but their present as well.
Check out an article later this week about 5 moves the Boston Celtics should make this offseason. And keep reading isportsweb’s Celtics coverage brought to you by Nathan Farr, whose turf I’m totally infringing on right now (sorry dude).